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How stealthy patches could bring down all of Windows 10

Woody Leonhard | Aug. 28, 2015
Here's a simple scenario where the lack of patch information could severely limit Windows 10's acceptance.

I don't get it.

About a year ago, Microsoft started dismantling its patching Advance Notification Service, ANS. The official announcement said:

Moving forward, we will provide ANS information directly to Premier customers and current organizations involved in our security programs, and will no longer make this information broadly available through a blog post and Web page… For customers without a Premier support contract, we recommend taking advantage of myBulletins, which enables customers to tailor security bulletin information based on only those applications running in their environment.

And, of course, when the Security Bulletins have no content, organizations that can't afford Premiere Support get cut back to nothing. Zip.

Windows patching guru Susan Bradley has posted a feature suggestion on Microsoft's User Voice blog. Her observation:

To many a sys admin, the current communication levels in the knowledge base articles that document the contents of the cumulative Windows 10 updates are not complete enough, and we cannot determine if a released update has fixed a bug that we noted. Instead we have to rely on the community word of mouth "Gee, did that fix that issue for you?" which is not a good way to handle communication or patch management.

It would be more appropriate to include information on what non security items were fixed in each release so we can assure ourselves that what bugs we are seeing are being resolved and we no longer need to report these issues. It will also be an enticement to install updates as we will know exactly what was fixed in each patch.

While consumers have less options to opt out of updates, Enterprises still have the ability with WSUS to fully control when updates get installed on machines. Thus having timely and actionable information from the vendor is key to getting patches installed quickly. If we have to rely on word of mouth reports of included fixes in patches and then wait for sufficient community affirmation of these resolutions, it will delay our installation of updates.

I would only add that Windows cognoscenti -- not only admins -- are getting punched in the gut, as are tech support crews, both hardware and software, which have to work with Microsoft patches. So are family tech gurus, office Windows experts, and nearly about everyone beyond the "I give up, sock it to me Microsoft" class of Windows 10 users.

Will admins stand up in force and refuse to work with Windows 10, until Microsoft opens up a bit? Hard to say, but one thing's for sure: Secrecy in patching doesn't work any better than secrecy in development.

And if a company's admins refuse to support Windows 10, where does that leave Microsoft?

Do yourself a favor. Hop over to the User Voice blog and vote for "coherent KB articles for Windows 10 updates and not rambling lists of files that were changed."


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